The Philippines has expressed support for Indonesia’s proposal for the holding of joint patrols with the Philippines and Malaysia against kidnapping and piracy on a vital shipping route located along the sea borders of the three countries.
Members of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) anti-terrorist unit board a cargo vessel to engage mock pirates who hijacked the vessel during a combined maritime law enforcement exercise at a bay in Manila May 6, 2015. Image: Romeo Ranoco
Manuel Quezon 3rd, the Malacanang Palace communications undersecretary, cited the urgent need for such patrols following the agreement of the foreign ministers of the three countries to meet in Jakarta to discuss the issue.
“There is the intention for the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia to meet together to find ways to work together because dangers to the security of any sailor — Filipino, Malaysian, Indonesian or anyone — is a common threat to use all,” Quezon told government radio DzRB.
Besides, joint maritime patrols are in line with the principle adhered to by the Asean “that there must be free and open navigation in the region,” Quezon stressed. Asean stands for the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations which aside from the three countries, also includes Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma).
The proposal for joint maritime patrols arose mainly from recent attacks off the island province of Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao by members of the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants of slow-moving vessels like tugboats and took hostage at least 14 Indonesian and four Malaysian sailors.
The abductions resulted in an Indonesian ban on the use of their common sea borders off Mindanao by vessels carrying coal exports to Manila as well as travel advisories from the US and the United Kingdom warning their nationals against making “non-essential” visits to the area.
Source: The Gulf Today